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Tejeda v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 7, 2018

MIKAY TEJEDA, Petitioner,



         Presently before the Court is the motion of Mikay Tejeda ("Petitioner") to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF No. 1). Following an order from this Court, the Government filed a response to the motion. (ECF No. 5). Despite ample opportunity (see, e.g. ECF No. 8), Petitioner failed to file a reply. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Petitioner's motion as untimely.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or about May 4, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a one count indictment charging Petitioner, Mikay Tejeda, with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. (Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 38). Following a jury trial, Petitioner was found guilty on October 1, 2013. (See Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 106). Following trial, however, two issues came to light which required the Court's attention, resulting in a hearing held on October 20, 2013. (See Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 152). The first issue discussed at the hearing concerned the rough notes of a federal agent taken during an interview with Neil Van Den Berg, a witness relevant to Petitioner's trial. (Id. at 4). Throughout trial, when those notes were requested, the Government stated that no such notes existed. (Id.). After trial, however, the Government informed the Court that, after the trial verdict had been reached, the agent involved, who had previously stated that he did not remember taking notes, found rough notes of the interview when moving offices on October 4, 2013. (Id. at 4-5). Upon the discovery of the notes, the Government provided them to both the Court and defense counsel. (Id. at 5-6). The second issue which came to light at the hearing was that certain documents which had not been entered into evidence, including the Government's rebuttal notes, had been mixed in with the evidence and had made it into the jury room with the jury. (Id. at 9-11). Based on these two issues, counsel for the defense requested, and was granted, two weeks to file any motion he may have for a mistrial or other relief based on these two issues. (Id. at 11).

         Over the course of the next several weeks, the parties negotiated and eventually agreed to a plea agreement under which Petitioner would plead guilty to a superseding information charging him with the distribution and possession with intent to distribute of five or more kilograms of cocaine, which the parties agreed would not violate double jeopardy, [1] resulting in Petitioner receiving a sentence falling into a guidelines range between 23 and 27 with a stipulated criminal history category of I, in return for a dismissal of the jury's prior verdict against him. (See Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 125). That agreement also contained an explicit appellate waiver in which Petitioner agreed not to file any appeal or § 2255 motion challenging his sentence if he were sentenced pursuant to the agreement. (Id. at 8-9).

         On December 20, 2013, Petitioner appeared before the Court and pled guilty pursuant to the agreement. (Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 151). On May 7, 2014, Petitioner appeared before the Court and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of seventy eight months accompanied by a three year period of supervised release. (Docket No. 12-312 at ECF Nos. 131, 133). This Court also dismissed the jury's verdict at that time. (See Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 131). Petitioner did not file an appeal. (ECF No. 1 at 2). On November 13, 2015, however, Petitioner moved for a reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) based on a retroactive amendment to the sentencing guidelines issued in 2014. (Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 146). On November 16, 2015, this Court granted that motion and reduced Petitioner's sentence to 64 months of imprisonment. (Docket No. 12-312 at ECF No. 147).


         A. Legal Standard

         A prisoner in federal custody may file a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 challenging the validity of his or her sentence. Section 2255 provides, in relevant part, as follows:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Unless the moving party claims a jurisdictional defect or a Constitutional violation, in order to merit relief the moving party must show that an error of law or fact constitutes "a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, (or) an omission inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure." United States v. Horsley, 599 F.2d 1265, 1268 (3d Cir. 1979) (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 429 (1962)), cert. denied AAA U.S. 865 (1979); see also Morelli v. United States, 285 F.Supp.2d 454, 458-59 (D.N J. 2003). Prior to ordering an answer to a § 2255 motion, Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings requires that the district court review a petitioner's § 2255 motion and "dismiss the motion" if it "plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief."

         B. Analysis

         1. An evidentiary hearing is not required

         28 U.S.C. § 2255(b) requires an evidentiary hearing for all motions brought pursuant to the statute "unless the motion and files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b); United States v. Booth, 432 F.3d 542, 545 (3d Cir. 2005); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 41-42 (3d Cir. 1992). "Where the record, supplemented by the trial judge's personal knowledge, conclusively negates the factual predicates asserted by the petitioner or indicate[s] that petitioner is not entitled to relief as a matter of law, no hearing is required." Judge v. United States, Docket No. 13-2896, 2015 WL 4742380, at *3 (D.N.J. Aug. 11, 2015); see also Government of Virgin Islands v. Nicholas,759 F.2d 1073, 1075 (3d Cir. 1985); United States v. Tuyen Quang Pham,587 Fed.Appx. 6, 8 (3d Cir. 2014); Booth, 432 F.3d at 546. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's motion is untimely and there is ...

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